Thursday, April 2, 2020

FLOWERS AND STONES INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Image via pinterest.com
I think we all need to see something pretty in these dark days so we've been back to looking online for inspirations while we're on lockdown.  This is something I have often thought about.  We like rocks in the garden but the ones we have saved up at the farm are smaller (think softball/slightly larger).  We took them out there when we sold the house in town (a couple of buckets at a time).  We will have them for some project in the future.

But these in the photo above are what I REALLY like. Focal points in a garden.  They look like they've always been there.  Of course in some parts of the country there are properties where someone would have easy access to them.  Down here in the flat terrain of SE Texas, there just aren't large stones like these readily available.  I'm sure we could buy them but I'm sure they are pricey too, ha.

Anyway, pretty and maybe someday we can come up with some large rocks like this.

Be inspired...and stay safe!

Monday, March 30, 2020

ULTIMATE SOCIAL DISTANCING

In this time of the pandemic, life has to go on somehow so Saturday I went to the farm.  I did stop at Home Depot on the way to get some bags of soil.  I'd rather have supported the local mom and pop garden center places but my two usual spots were closed due the pandemic.

I kept my social distance, I wore gloves and stayed in the garden center so I was outside.  Lots of customers with masks and gloves and everyone respecting everyone's space.  I loaded the soil in the car and headed on out.

11 acres in the country is the ultimate way to social distance, ha.  


This is sky when I got there.  Yikes!  I checked the radar and it was an approaching cold front which of course when they hit warm air we get storms.  I left everything in the car and jumped on the mower quickly as I could.


I was on the mower for about an hour and 45 minutes.  At one point it started raining and I said to myself that I'd just finish the driveway and then put the mower up.  By the time I was heading back down the driveway, the rain stopped.  I kept on going and finished all the usual mowing areas.


It was nice and neat when it was done.  I also edged around the barn and shed...


...and around the fruit tree raised beds.  I should have done that first so the mower would clean up the edged grass clippings but I was trying to beat the rain.  Still, they looked better so I was happy.


After I edged, I worked on the citrus trees and got fresh soil in their beds and hopefully they'll be blooming soon.


While I was mowing, I could smell the scent of the Huisache tree on the wind. It wasn't strong but it was enough for it to be recognizable.  Sure enough, here are a few early blooms. I know many ranchers consider it a nuisance tree but we don't have to deal with it growing everywhere. In fact we only have a few on the entire property. The blooms are stunning when full but only last a couple of weeks and the scent is amazing. I'll get some new pictures this year for those new to the blog.


The second plum tree is blooming so that's good.


I bought extra raised bed soil for this coming weekend.  The plan was to get the mowing done, the edging done and the fruit tree beds done so I can get a garden planted.  Who knows where things are headed and so a garden producing at least some food would be a good thing.  Now I just need the seedlings/plants.


When I was done for the day, it was time to get back into town before the curfew (not really a curfew per se but the police are cracking down on being out late in the afternoon/into the evening).  I backed up and then looked...oops, I forgot to move my car when I was mowing.  Oh well.  I'll be able to tell how much it has grown in a week, ha.  

And now on to week 2 of the quarantine.  

What a world...

Friday, March 27, 2020

IT IS AN ADJUSTMENT

This pandemic quarantine is definitely taking some getting used to.  I can say though that we have not left the apartment since I got home from work a few days ago. Not to get the mail, not to go to the store for a last moment thing, nothing.  There is a countywide stay at home order though we can technically go for groceries, medicine, gas, healthcare, etc.   

Working from home is an adjustment for sure.  2nd Man has done it on and off for years.  For me this is a first in my entire working career.  I do like getting up later.  Still at work at the same time but don't have to allow for taking a shower and getting dressed in the morning now.  I can roll out of bed and sit down at the table and start working.  

I'm guessing there is something about people working from home not getting into bad habits like that but hey, it's all new for me, so far, so good!


I do have someone staring at me...trying to figure out what is going on.  Hobart has to have his crocheted afghan on the dining table (don't judge, he's happy, ha!) and he sleeps there most of the day only to get up occasionally and look at me like..."um, what are you doing? You're messing up my day."

As for food we have been cooking simple things during the week and saving the bigger meals for weekends.  We are really watching how much we use.  I'm taking pictures so I'll have posts up soon, maybe next week, on how we've eaten so far.

Since we don't have to worry about a power failure, we stocked our fridge and freezer well with meat and frozen veggies.  The pantry is also stocked.  More posts on that soon as well.

It's just taking a bit to get into the swing of this new normal so I haven't been able to post or catch up on comments. Things are so different but I guess we are slowly adapting to life in the time of the pandemic.


Lastly, courtesy of our sweet friend/regular commenter Colleen, comes this funny.  We were cracking up!  No matter how dark the days are we have to keep our sense of humor and be the light.

How are you adapting wherever you are?
Any tips or advice to share?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

WE ARE SHUT DOWN

Well, the inevitable happened.  We were put on a 'shelter in place'.  In our part of the state, they normally use that phrase for hurricanes, plant explosions, floods, etc. so they they came up with the phrase "Stay Home, Work Safe".

For those in other parts of the world that are curious, here is what the declaration looks like:


ALERTHOUSTON
"Stay Home, Work Safe" Order Issued for Harris County

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and local health officials Tuesday to announce details of a "Stay Home, Work Safe" Order issued by Harris County that requires individuals to remain at home or a place of residence, with exceptions for essential work and activities. View the complete City of Houston Order HERE.
The Order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 and will last until April 3 unless modified, to further contain the spread of COVID-19 in Houston and Harris County.   
  • Essential businesses can remain open. The Stay Home, Work Safe Order exempts essential workers covered in 16 CISA categories. The list of critical business can be found here.
  • Individuals may leave their residence only to perform “Essential Activities”
  • People working from home do not have to shelter in place or lock down. Groceries stores, pharmacies, gas stations, parks and other areas will remain open. 
  • Bars and nightclubs will remain closed; restaurants will offer only food takeout and delivery
  • People should practice social distancing 
Social distancing guidance for all Houstonians:  
  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical care situations.
  • Practice healthy hygiene habits:
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve.
  • Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially if you are at higher risk for coronavirus.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  • Privacy protection laws only permit the release of limited patient information. The health department is unable to release any additional patient information.
Stay Informed
Houstonians may visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for updated information about local risk, routine protective actions, frequently asked questions, communication resources, rumor control, and emergency preparedness tips.
___________________________________________________

We are adjusting to a new normal.  Some of you asked if it meant we couldn't leave the house etc.  They do not want people leaving their homes except for food, medical, gas, or traveling to an essential job.  They say they will have police patrolling and there could be fines or jail time.  Honestly, I'm not sure how they can really enforce that but we'll start hearing stories over the next few days.

Fortunately, the city is a ghost town.  The freeways are empty, there are no cars in downtown, no people filling the sidewalks.  Restaurants are closed except for the ones that offer carryout and most retail is closed as well.

Will be working from home.  2nd Man had usually worked from home on a regular basis at his last job but I never have.  As this posts today, I will be here at home with my work laptop, headset, and all my office supplies.  I'm ready!

This will be our new normal for a while as we do our part to #FlattenTheCurve

Stay safe everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2020

WHAT VEGETABLES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND

Sorry for our absence from the blog the last few days.  We've been getting things together and staying pretty much isolated.  I purposely mowed short last weekend for this reason, had a feeling that other things would be occupying our time.  We're guessing a lockdown for Houston, if not all of Texas, is coming any day now and we wouldn't be surprised if the entire country is locked down very soon.


What a world huh?

If you had said last year that we'd be living in a time of a pandemic this Spring, most people would have thought you were crazy...but it's here and it's the new reality for most of us.  

These are indeed crazy and scary times.  

When we got the farm 8 years ago we had always figured it could be our bug out location if we had to leave Houston for any reason.  Alas, now that an actual situation exists, we can't work from home out there as there is no reliable internet connection, we only have the one window unit, not much hot water and the bathroom doesn't always work.  We had delayed improvements on the house while we decided what to focus on elsewhere for getting something new out there.  How that changes in an instant!  Now we have to worry about jobs and where the economy will be headed in the future, a recession, a depression or it bounces back?  

It's peace of mind that at last we have a place we could live in with just a few upgrades if we had to.  In the meantime, we are going to use it as our supplemental food source.

Which brings us to the question:


What to grow?  This is the garden area a few weeks back.  A few more weeds now but with a few bags of soil added, it'll be ready for planting.  We also have the new soaker hoses and parts for the irrigation system so we're ready to go with planting very soon.

The original garden thinking for this season was just a few plants to ease back into it after taking last year off.  But we're concerned about supply chain issues with grocery stores if this pandemic gets worse or lasts for months.


What veggies/herbs would be on an emergency food supply garden list for you?  Now that we are past Winter we can grow anything that does well in Spring weather.  It does turn very hot by end of May and into June.  What would you recommend growing to keep an ongoing supply of food if you could only have a few?  We're going to do tomatoes for sauce and other dishes (even though they have been hit and miss), maybe some pickling cucumbers to make pickles,  but we're trying to figure out what else.  Eggplant perhaps?  Maybe squash?  That was kind of iffy a couple seasons ago.  Peppers could be grown but they seem more like something to add to other dishes, not a main dish themselves.  Not sure about root vegetable but we might try carrots again.  Until it gets really hot some salad greens perhaps?  If we can only pick one herb probably basil for it's many uses and we already have rosemary growing.  


We're hoping that even if we're locked down we can still drive out there.  I mean it would be a trip for food and we wouldn't be stopping anywhere else.

So any suggestions on what must have vegetables to grow in a limited space that will help keep you fed?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

PREPARED PANTRY INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

*(these aren't ours, ha)

Image via pinterest.com
In these uncertain times, there is nothing more comforting than a well stocked pantry, something millions of people around the world are discovering.  

I'm sort of the newshound of the household and I was reading about this virus back in January.  What I was reading about in China was disturbing enough that I told 2nd Man I was going to start adding a few things to our pantry at the apartment. 

While ours doesn't look like either of these, we'll be fine for a few weeks.  Of course this made us realize that we need to make sure the pantry is well stocked all of the time and so we were looking online for ideas.  These two caught our attention. 

Image via pinterest.com
Home canned goods, store bought canned goods, canned meats, beans, rices, flours, etc.  We'll admit, the steel shelving to support the weight is pretty smart too.  This pantry has everything you'd need, including, we're sure just off camera, toilet paper, ha!

Be inspired, be prepared and be safe!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

SPRING PLANNING NEWS DISTRACTION

It's that time of year.  Planning for the future!  And with a global pandemic raging around the world, it works as a nice distraction.


First up, I got the raised bed watering system connections and hoses in the mail the other day.  We put them up at the farm but I have to sit down with a piece of paper (I'm old school like that) and plan it.

Of course we should probably already have stuff in the ground but with the craziness of the last couple of weeks, we're dealing with that at the moment.

Still, we need to decided what we want to grow this season and in which raised beds.  That's part of it.


And this is the other part.  We've been saving the catalogs that all come in within a week or two of each other.  It couldn't have been better timing to distract from the current news.

I'll lay them all out, sit down with a glass (or two) of wine and plan a trip into the post apocalyptic future, ha.  I always spend hours looking at gardening and seed catalogs.  The promise of Spring and all the potential that it holds...

Winter planning leads to Spring planting

What about you, what are your favorite catalogs for planning your Spring?

Monday, March 16, 2020

MOWING AND FRUIT TREES TO DISTRACT FROM THE NEWS

With the deteriorating conditions in the country, and it's going downhill fast here in Houston, we had to get away to the farm this weekend.

2nd Man gathered up supplies we have out there to bring back into town and I mowed and watered.  


I put the mowing deck a 1/2" lower than normal just to cut it shorter in case we are locked down on quarantine.  We're guessing that "mowing" is not a necessary reason to violate a curfew, ha.


It was a little quicker than usual, 1 hr and 25 minutes.  Speed was a bit more too.  Honestly I probably could have skipped mowing this weekend but as I mentioned, if the city gets locked down, I'd rather have it mowed so that it's not a nightmare when I do eventually get back to it.


It looked good when done, just shorter than usual.  If I get to go out this coming weekend, I'll mow again, to stay ahead of the curve.


We wanted to see something pretty to distract from the news.  The fruit trees are still budding out...this is the plum tree.


But speaking of pretty, check this out.  The apple tree in full glorious bloom. We had no idea they bloomed this prolifically.  WOW, it's a sight to behold.  We just kind of stood there looking at it.  In the midst of chaos in the world, life keeps going on.

Hang in there friends, we will get through this together.


Friday, March 13, 2020

PANDEMIC PREPARATIONS

We don't think we need any real introduction with this post.  There is a pandemic occurring around the world and it grows and threatens us here at home.

We have both been on this Earth more than 50 years.  Not even during the hurricane threats we've had,  have we EVER  seen what is going now in stores across Houston and we presume everywhere.


Masks, gloves and alcohol are gone.  This is the sight in several stores I frequent.


And forget about hand soap.  It's gone.


Hand sanitizer?  Ha, there is NONE to be had at ANY store ANYWHERE in Houston.


While regular masks are gone, one store put out these $5 packages of dust and filter masks. We keep hearing conflicting info about masks.  They help...they don't help.  I'm thinking if we step into an elevator where someone is coughing maybe they will do something?  Or just peace of mind?


They are limiting products at most stores.


All bleach products are gone.  So are the disinfecting sprays and wipes.


Water?  Gone.


There were a few soups left on this day but a few days later they were gone. I actually had someone in the store ask if I had seen any soup anywhere else.


Canned beans were almost completely gone.  Notice what they still had some of; garbanzo beans (chickpeas).  I guess those weren't flying off the shelf this day.  My guess is now, they are gone.


Crackers gone except for these three boxes (I put one of them in my basket).


This was wild.  The entire frozen vegetable section (it's about three times as long as this picture) was empty.  Hard to see in this picture because of the reflection but all that was left were a few bags of edamame and some frozen corn on the cob.


Ramen noodles, the dinner food of many a college student, gone.  We actually snagged a few at another store that were 15 cents each.  I picked up a dozen.  It can't hurt to have and when we have had them in the past, we like to doctor them up and make them more gourmet, ha.


This scene just blew my mind.  No toilet paper.  No paper towels.  No Kleenex.  I mean in pictures further up, there might be a few scattered items left in a category but not here.  There was NOT A SINGLE PRODUCT on this aisle.  Fortunately a couple of weeks ago before the run on the stores, I bought our normal 14 pack of mega rolls so we should be fine on that for awhile.  

When it comes to food, we are well stocked.  I've been buying over the last few weeks just in case and now that things seem to be getting exponentially worse, I'm glad I did.

We have plenty of food now.  Rice, beans (canned and dried), lentils, lots of pasta, soups, canned meats, tomatoes products, "cream of" soups, frozen veggies, lots of longer lasting meats (sausages, bacon, ham), cheeses, 4 dozen eggs, peanut butter, jellies, potatoes, onions, flours, sugars, coffee, waters, tea, condiments, and much more.  I don't think we've ever been this well stocked.  The freezer already has some frozen meats like pork loin roasts, pork chops, beef shank, and more.

The only thing we should get are some fresh meats like ground beef, chicken, etc.  We're going to get that this weekend and vacuum seal some to freeze, maybe cook a few chickens and take the meat off for use in future meals, things like that. 

We are living in an interesting and somewhat frightening times.  More on that in a future post.

Hang in there friends!